When students apply to SUTD, they do not directly apply to the ESD pillar. Although students may be asked to indicate their interest during the admission process, their final decision is made at the end of Term 3. During this time, students are encouraged to interact with faculty and attend ESD talks and events in order to make a more informed decision. There are no specific admission requirements to join ESD other than completing the freshmore term.

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The ESD degree is concerned with the design, analysis, and management of large scale complex engineering systems.